Editor's note

In 2017, data privacy got a lot of attention – mostly because people discovered how unprotected their data truly was. In the past year, news broke that every single Yahoo account had been compromised and so had the detailed financial data of nearly every adult in the U.S. It all added up to one key question: Is there such a thing as online privacy? Get insights, and some answers, from scholars of computer science, engineering, cybersecurity and business ethics about how governments, companies and regular people can protect sensitive data. Jeff Inglis

Ten years ago, the first iPhone was released. Today, nearly 80 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and many probably can’t imagine living without one. But even though the smartphone makes many tasks so much easier – from getting directions to sharing photos and reading the news – are there costs to being so dependent on one device? Over the past year, researchers studied some of the smartphone’s adverse effects, and how it can influence our sleep, mental health, relationships and ability to learn. Nick Lehr

Jeff Inglis

Science + Technology Editor

Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

Science + Technology

Who’s sharing your secrets? Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

Is there such a thing as online privacy? 7 essential reads

Jeff Inglis, The Conversation

What scholars know, are learning and are predicting about the privacy of electronic data, online activity, smartphone use and electronic records.

An armed robber's Supreme Court case could affect all Americans' digital privacy for decades to come

H.V. Jagadish, University of Michigan

Should police be able to use cellphone records to track suspects – and law-abiding citizens?

7 in 10 smartphone apps share your data with third-party services

Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, University of California, Berkeley; Srikanth Sundaresan, Princeton University

When smartphone apps get permission to access your location or other activity, they often share that data with other companies that can compile digital profiles on users.

Nobody reads privacy policies – here's how to fix that

Florian Schaub, University of Michigan

Consumers can't read, understand or use information in companies' privacy policies. So they end up less informed and less protected than they'd like to be. New research shows a better way.

Teaching machines to understand – and summarize – text

Karuna Pande Joshi, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Tim Finin, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Nobody can understand the legal language in privacy policies. Can artificial intelligence digest the text and produce a human-readable explanation?

Building privacy right into software code

Jean Yang, Carnegie Mellon University

Most of today's computer languages make it hard for programmers to protect users' privacy and security. The fix is to take those tasks out of human hands entirely.

Should cybersecurity be a human right?

Scott Shackelford, Indiana University

Recent developments at the United Nations and the G-20 suggest that the well-known human rights to privacy and freedom of expression may soon be formally extended to online communications.

Real security requires strong encryption – even if investigators get blocked

Susan Landau, Tufts University

The FBI and police officials say they need to decrypt secure communications to fight crime. But they have other options, and modern threats make clear the importance of strong encryption.

Arts + Culture

At some point, it stopped being all fun and games. lassedesignen/Shutterstock.com

A grim year for the smartphone: 5 essential reads

Nick Lehr, The Conversation

With studies from the past year exploring the relationship between smartphone use and mental health, sleep, learning and romance, a more nuanced portrait of the device has emerged.

What's behind phantom cellphone buzzes?

Daniel J. Kruger, University of Michigan

Have you ever checked your phone thinking you had felt it vibrate or heard it ring, only to see that no one tried to reach you? One researcher decided to study this phenomenon.

She phubbs me, she phubbs me not: Smartphones could be ruining your love life

James A. Roberts, Baylor University

Phone snubbing, or 'phubbing,' has become a real relationship downer.

The talking dead: how personality drives smartphone addiction

James A. Roberts, Baylor University

Are you moody? Prone to distraction? Cellphones may act as a high-tech pacifier.

With teen mental health deteriorating over five years, there's a likely culprit

Jean Twenge, San Diego State University

According to a new analysis, the number of US teens who felt "useless" and "joyless" grew 33 percent between 2010 and 2015, and there was a 23 percent increase in suicide attempts.

The enduring power of print for learning in a digital world

Patricia A. Alexander, University of Maryland; Lauren M. Singer Trakhman, University of Maryland

Digital textbooks might be less cumbersome. But a new series of studies finds that reading from screens can hamper our ability to process and retain information.